New Car/Review

1999 Infiniti QX4

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Ford Full Line factory footage (14:26) 28.8, 56k, or 200k

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 35,550
     Price As Tested                                    $ 37,995
     Engine Type                             3.3 Liter V6 w/SFI*
     Engine Size                                 201 cid/3275 cc
     Horsepower                                   168 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               196 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.3"/72.4"/183.9"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4280 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                      245/70R16
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive         

     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.48

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            15/19/18         

     0-60 MPH                                       12.7 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     18.9 seconds @ 72.4 mph
     Max towing capacity                                5000 lbs

     * Sequential fuel injection

(Bob Hagin says Nissan saved its really high-tech SUV stuff for the Infiniti QX4. Matt Hagin agrees, adds that the QX4 has no changes since it's '96 debut, but says it's still a very classy rig.)

MATT - A couple of years back Infiniti introduced the QX4, and displayed its state-of-the-art automatic All-Wheel Drive system. It's transmission is borrowed from the Nissan Skyline GT-R muscle car that's not sold in the U.S. The QX4 is a Nissan Pathfinder with a plethora of upgrades, but it's not intended to be a rock-crushing off-roader. It's fully outfitted and the only optional packages are the Sunroof Preferred Package and the Premium Sport Package which requires the Sunroof Preferred Package to be added, too. Together they give the QX4 a limited-slip rear differential, heated front seats, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, six disc CD changer and a rear window wind deflector.

BOB - I have heard you and your brothers talking about the QX4 being a great ski rig and despite its fancy carriage-trade trimmings, this Infiniti is capable of getting its occupants and their recreational gear over semi-rough terrain with a minimum of fuss and bother. It has a knob on the dash that allows the driver to engage three different modes of power application. One position selects an electronically-controlled system that senses any differences in how well the tires are gripping the road. When one of the wheels begins to spin, it automatically applies up to fifty-percent of the available power to the front tires. That way, when the all-wheel drive system isn't needed, the power goes 100 percent to the back wheels. This is a gas-saver and also keeps tire "scrub" to a minimum.

MATT - I know you like traction control, Dad, but this system works so well that you really don't need it. The driver can still lock the front and rear differentials together for maximum traction when the road really gets bad. In addition, there's a floor-mounted lever that puts the whole thing into super-low gearing. The one we tested had the optional limited-slip rear differential from the Premium Sport Package and with a 5000-pound maximum towing capacity this system would make pulling our boat that much safer. All QX4's carry the Nissan 3.3 liter, single overhead cam V6 that seems to have been tuned for good mid-speed power, but its not the quickest SUV around. It's heavy on the "sport" part of sport/utility, with front and rear sway bars, strut type front suspension and a five-link rear set-up mounted to a solid rear axle housing. This means it handles around town much like a sedan, except it can go off-road in a pinch. The Bose sound system is outstanding and was well thought out so that everyone inside gets the same level of listening quality, even at full blast.

BOB - Unfortunately, I'm stuck in the tape-deck era, Matt, so the six- disc changer didn't do me any good. But it gave good sound even from my old cassette favorites. I'm patient and I don't mind changing them one at a time. Its controls were easy to reach and they're close to the climate control knobs. The 20-oz cup holders are handy but not overdone, with two up front and two in back. With the rear seats folded down there is 38 cubic feet of cargo room which works well for a couple of big ski bags, but I couldn't get any 4'X 8' sheets of plywood or wallboard inside.

MATT - Dad, the QX4 is aiming for the high-income buyer who can afford a Nissan Frontier pickup for that stuff. Although the QX4 is truck-based, it's not the typical body-on-frame SUV. There's two sub-frames for the suspension mounting, and this helps to make the QX4 a easy-rider driving machine. Sophie is only three years old, but now she's caught on to opening the rear doors to get in by herself. Fortunately, the rear outside door handles are mounted too high for her and she can't easily get into trouble. I liked the overall daily-driver feel of the QX4.

BOB - It's smooth, relatively nimble and fun to drive, Matt. The QX4 is as comfortable as old shoes and reminds me of my daily driver.

MATT - Dad, your "daily driver" is almost ready for the junkyard.

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